When institutions mask abuse, they must be held to account

 After Sir Jimmy Savile died, a sex abuse scandal erupted over the BBC host.
After Sir Jimmy Savile died, a sex abuse scandal erupted over the BBC host.

In his Oct. 23 letter “Mistakes should not tarnish an organization’s overall value,” Mark W. Cripps questioned the “value” of the Globe reporting on the sustained, systemic cover-up of sexual assault and molestation by the Boy Scouts of America, wondering why “a ven­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tion cov­er­ing up the pres­ence of pe­dophiles within its or­ga­ni­za­tion” was worthy of front-page news. The mere fact that Cripps writes this letter with no irony is stunning.

Have the Boy Scouts done good for the country? Certainly; so have the Catholic Church and Penn State University. But when an organization engages in masking abuse and enabling rape, it must be held to account dramatically and forcefully. For decades the Boy Scouts kept secret files covering up molestation, including several Massachusetts cases, to preserve its image and reputation, in the process allowing for more sexual assault and devastation.

Right now, Britons are struggling with the revelation that Sir Jimmy Savile, the beloved children’s television presenter, disc jockey, and charity worker who died last year, has been accused of having molested and raped young girls for decades. He gained access to children through his television program “Jim’ll Fix It,” where he made the dreams of young people come true.


Savile was a British institution and did a lot of good for Britons; would Cripps excuse his crimes? Surely not. So why should the Boy Scouts of America be different?

Michael Denham